Monthly Archives: September 2020

  • Grow at Home: Winter veg planting

    Now the main growing season is nearly over I'm sure you  - especially if you are new to veg growing - are wondering what to plant now.  Well, winter veg planting is not as straightforward as you might think.

    What it reminds me of is a well-known joke about a tourist who asks one of the locals for directions. The local replies: ‘Well sir, if I were you, I wouldn’t start from here’.

    Why? you ask.

    Well, the traditional 'winter' veg such as brussels sprouts, leeks and parsnips are actually sown much earlier in the year. Don't worry though, there are still plenty of vegetables to grow.

    Autumn / Winter Veg planting & the Soil

    It is good to think ahead to what is going on in the soil in winter.  When temperatures drop and the soil cools below 5°C in November, there won’t be any growth until the following Spring (March/April). Virtually none.

    So whilst Autumn is still productive in the vegetable garden, growth slows dramatically in October before grinding to a halt in November.  There are ways to extend the season like using a greenhouse or keeping the soil and plants warm with a Easy Poly Tunnel.  All in all though, the short days, cold temperatures and 'locked away' water means growth outside is going to be minimal.

    What veg can I plant in September?

    There are really 3 main groups of autumn winter vegetables and it’s handy to understand these so that you can plan your veg.  Some vegetables can fit into more than one category depending on the variety you choose so pay attention to the recommended planting dates to make sure you get the right one.

    Autumn Vegetables

    These are still up for grabs for planting and eating this year.  Autumn veg are planted in August/September but grow quickly so that they are harvested before growth stops in November. These include salad crops, turnips, spinach, Swiss Chard and radish.  Plant now and they can fill up your beds and give you some nutritious veg in the short days of winter.

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    Autumn Overwintering Vegetables

    These are planted in September time but won't be harvested until Spring.  They will become dormant in the ground over Winter.  Then come Spring, when the temperatures rise in March/ April time, they will start growing again. These include Spring Cabbage, garlic and onion sets.  Some of them need a period of cold to grow properly for example garlic needs a period of 6 weeks below 10° C for the bulb to divide and form into cloves.

    You can also overwinter broad beans and peas. If you do this they will crop about a month earlier.  Good if a) you really like peas and beans and want to eat them for longer or b) you are a competitive gardener and want to beat your neighbour to the crop!

    Spring Overwintering Vegetables

    Now these are the ones that are traditionally winter veg but in fact should have planted months ago.   These have a long growing season and are ready in the winter months but require planning make this happen. Sowing season is around April (Sprouts) to June (Leeks) if you are going to be having them for Christmas Lunch.

    So, what veg can I plant in September?

    Here is a list of 12 candidates for you to consider.  You can either grow from seed or may even be able to pick up plug plants from your local garden centre.

    Autumn Vegetables

    • Kohl Rabi
    • Turnip
    • Radish
    • Onion
    • Spring Onion
    • Oriental Salads
    Overwinter Spring harvest
    • Garlic
    • Spring Cabbage
    • Broad Beans
    • Kale
    • Chard 
    • Perpetual Spinach

    Let us know what you decide to go for in the comments...

  • Product Bites: Easy Fleece Tunnels

    What are Easy Fleece Tunnels:

    closed_fleece_tunnel_with_carrotsEasy Fleece Tunnels are growing tunnels that warms the air around your plants and protects them from frost and harsh weather. They also:-

    • Lock in moisture
    • Protect from pests
    • Prevent sun scorching on hotter days
    • Warm the soil ready for sowing

    Easy Fleece Tunnels™ are manufactured from U.V. stabilised 45gsm heavyweight polypropylene fleece and rust resistant galvanised steel hoops.  The high quality fleece material creates warmth and insulation whilst allowing moisture and sunlight to filter through amking it an ideal growing environment.

    What crop are they for:

    Ideal for spring vegetables such as: Beetroot, Carrot, Cauliflower, Courgette, Lettuce, Mar-row, Pepper, Potato, Tomato and Radish.

    The Giant Fleece Tunnel is especially good for starting off brassicas like your Christmas Brussels Sprouts.  It will protect them while they are young and tender.

    Where can I use Easy Fleece Tunnels:

    They are suitable to use all over the garden.  Simply push into the soil where required.

    What's so special about it?

    fleece_tunnel_putting_out_still_concertinaedOne of the advantages of these particular tunnels is that they do not need ground pegs.  As with all Haxnicks tunnels, peg the steel hoops straight into the ground to keep the tunnel firmly in place.

    Another major advantage is that after use the tunnels fold up neatly for storage.  It you keep the original packaging then you can just fold them flat and hang on a nail in the shed until they are needed again next season. Then they can be reused again and again.

    Find out more: 

    See it in action: To see it in action head over to our YouTube channel Easy Tunnels

    Related Blogs:  Read about it in use Grow at Home: Spring Cabbages

    Buy it Now:  See them here Easy Fleece Tunnels or Giant Easy Fleece Tunnels for your taller crops.


     

  • Grow at Home: The 'No Dig' method of gardening

    spade_in_soil_no_dig_gardeningPut simply ‘No dig’ is exactly that - a means of gardening without digging over the plot each year.

    It is a a gardening method that is gaining popularity in sustainable gardening and farming communities around the world.  It is the passion of award winning expert and writer Charles Dowding who runs courses on his farm in Somerset.  In these he shares the technique with hundreds of new gardeners every year.

    The basic principle of ‘No Dig is that rather than seeking to cultivate soil we should leave it to manage this process on its own. By simply weeding at surface level, minimising disruption to the soil and keeping the structure intact you can achieve a perfectly balanced medium for gardening.  This will allow you to enjoy fantastic results, with a lot less back breaking work!

    For years we have been told the secret to success is to dig over your soil and ‘improve’ it.  The basis of this is that this promotes healthy soil and discourages weeds.

    In fact, Charles Dowding’s research suggests the opposite is true. His work shows that intensive ‘dig’ cultivation is actually harmful to the soil.  It promotes weed growth and leads to a reduction in crop production.  And of course, it uses a lot of time and energy!

    With a ‘No dig’ garden you only disturb the soil to plant seedlings and undertake some light hoeing.  A Speedhoe or SpeedHoe Precision depending on the size of your bed will give you that light touch across the surface. The only extra work is to add a compost mulch once a year and that’s it!

    How to Start 'No Dig'

    Careful preparation of your growing area is the key.   Starting with the removal/smothering of weeds, followed by a thick mulch of cardboard then compost.  Your bed might be out of action for 6 months to a year so it might be best to do this one bed or portion of the garden at a time so you can carry on growing.

    wheelbarrow_,mulch_no_digMulching

    For those new to gardening - mulches are loose coverings or sheets of material placed on the surface of soil. They can be biodegradable matter such as compost, bark or cardboard.  Or they can be non biodegradable matter such as gravel, sheets of cardboard, lino or landscaping weed barrier fabrics.

    Whatever mulch you use, the purpose of mulching is to save water, suppress weeds and improve the soil around plants.  It also gives your garden a neat, tidy appearance and can reduce the amount of time spent on tasks such as watering and weeding.

     

    Initial Preparation

    The key steps are:

    • Clear the site a little if needed - there is no need to remove weeds, with the exception of tough woody species such as brambles which should be cut out as much as possible so that it is flat enough to lay your cardboard.
    • We recommend cardboard as it will decompose.  Avoid plastic as they may break down into microplastics which will stay in your soil.  Carpet is often used but these days most carpet has been treated with chemicals which will poison the soil so its not a good option.
    • Lay your thick layer of cardboard and cover with mulch.  The mulch could be one or more of: homemade compost, fully-rotted manure, leaves or grass mowings.  You need about a 15 - 20 cms (6" - 8") layer.  The aim is to exclude the light so the weds can't grow.
    • Most perennial weeds will be weakened and then killed off with the cardboard and mulch. Ground Elder, Bindweed and Mares Tail might need some additional hoeing, but all will be weakened over time.
    • Now all you have to do is wait!  It can take 6 months to a year for all the weeds to die off.

    Maintenance

    The focus is on feeding and looking after the soil, rather than the plants – the No Dig principle is that organic matter is all you need to provide all the nutrients for a healthy crop, fed by the soil.

    • The mulch needs topping up each year to enrich the soil..  So, lay a layer of compost about 8cm (3") thick (laid on top - no digging in)
    • Keep a clean and tidy plot - remove damaged leaves and hoe regularly to reduce the chances of pests
    • Plant closely and harvest regularly leaving less space for weeds to grow and maximise your crop.

    Whether you’re new to gardening and have always been put off by tales of backbreaking work or have been working your plot for years and keen to try something new – give No Dig a go!

    Find out more about Charles Dowding and his work on his website https://charlesdowding.co.uk/

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Haxnicks Gardening Tips for September

    I can't believe August is over already but here are my gardening tips for September.  Firstly, keep on picking peas and beans.  Like their ornamental relative the sweetpea, they really are more productive if you keep on picking! Give some to friends and neighbours, and pop some in the freezer if you can’t keep up!

    Herbs

    herb-wall-planter Up, up and away - herbs are go!

    Even the simplest cheese sandwich or the most basic meal can be transformed by the addition of a few fresh herbs. There’s nothing to beat the gorgeous flavours and ‘zing’ that home grown herbs can add to your cooking.  The great thing is that it is simple to grow your own….right now!

    Forget those dried up greyish green crispy flakes of herbs that lurk in little bottles and boxes on the supermarket shelves.  Grab some compost and a good sized container and get growing your own real herbs with REAL flavour! Use an existing container or buy something special.  But remember, herbs don't need a deep container so you can use one of the Shallow Oxford Planters. If space is short and you have a sunny wall then you could go for an eight-pocket Herb Wall Planter.  Just think eight different herbs to choose from!

    Veg

    Ripe_ Pumpkin_with_dead_leavesAt this stage things are really slowing up so you’ll want to look after the plants really well. Pick off the fading flowers on courgettes and squash if the weather is damp.  If left in place they’re likely to cause the crop to rot.  You may need to remove badly mildewed leaves too.  Leave anything which is basically green on the plant as it’ll still be ‘useful’ and help to feed those slower growing fruits.

    Flowers

    Plant up some containers with spring-flowering bulbs. A good idea is to use a single variety of either daffodils or tulips for impact.  They will look absolutely gorgeous and make a very striking and bold display. Plant the container up in two layers.  So that one lot of bulbs is planted a couple of inches deeper than the next layer.  If you do this you should find that the display is prolonged slightly as the deeper ones will be flowering somewhat later.

    So that's it for September gardening tips.   Enjoy yourselves in the garden

  • Product Bite: Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters

    What are Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters:

    Vigoroot_potato/Tomato_planterVigoroot Potato/ Tomato Planters are air-pruning planters that offer a super easy way to grow bigger plants such as potatoes and tomatoes.

    What crop are they for:

    They are mainly used for potatoes and tomatoes but could any root veg  such as carrots or parsnips where the added depth will allow them to thrive.  You could even grow fruit trees such as damsons in them.

    They take 40 Litres of compost and will take 3 seed potatoes or two large tomato plants.

    Where can I use them:

    Use anywhere in the garden, patio, balcony or terrace.  They are 35cm in daimeter so you only need a tiny space to get growing.

    What's so special about it?

    Pink_potato_flower Potato flower

    The Vigoroot fabric is what makes them special.  The magic of this fabric comes from its ability to ‘air-prune’ the roots of plants, dramatically changing their formation and their ability to sustain the plant in a limited volume of compost. It encourages more vigorous rooting, which enables the plants to absorb more nutrients. It prevents the roots from growing too long, and helps prevent plants from becoming ‘pot-bound’ which would normally limit the plants’ growth. This means that the plants can grow to a much larger size in a relatively small pot.

    The super strong root system also helps the plants to become more resistant to harsh weather, pests and diseases. Used for many years by commercial growers, the benefits of air-pruning technology are well recognised by the trade.

    They also take all the hard work out of growing potatoes.  There is no digging to prepare the bed and come harvest time you simply tip the planter over and pull out the potatoes. 

    Find out more: 

    See it in action: To see it in action head over to our YouTube channel Vigoroot Patio Planters

    Related Blogs:  Read about it in use Grow at Home: Damsons or Grow at Home: Broad Beans

    Buy it Now:  See them here Vigoroot Potato/Tomato Planters

     

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